Summer (Un-)Realities

I’m not sure about you, but for me, everyday life in the summer happens quickly for my wife, my four teenagers and me. If the school year is a moving train, summer is a galloping horse — the indoor energy of a nine-month schedule of homework, practices, projects and rehearsals converts to three-months of camps, camping, outdoor adventures, and home remodeling projects (and physical therapy for new and nagging injuries, alike, especially for me now that I’m getting up there in age). It’s hard for me to decide which time of year is busier.

Like gerbils on an exercise wheel, most families we know keep similarly busy during the summer. This is the life we’re supposed to be living, I guess. Busy, busy, busy, do, do, do, because somehow we’ve come to accept that activity equals meaning/success/legitimacy equals life.

When do we rest? Well, we rest when we exhaust ourselves, when we fall off our galloping horse, when we’re unable to do, do, do, anymore. Of course, we get right back on our wheel (or horse) ASAP or, often, before it’s possible. Because God forbid we stop long enough to not DO anything. That would mean we would have to confront the spectres we so faithfully avoid and ignore: ourselves and God. I’m not sure which is the more intimidating, but we avoid both through social media, mobile devices and game consoles that occupy us 24/7.

I believe the pholosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal called these “diversions.” As is, they prove nearly 100 percent effective at keeping us busy with our lives as they are. We have little time, little margin for others outside our narrow summer window.

Meanwhile, our neighbors down the street struggle to survive, to make ends meet, to find the will to live.

Maybe it’s time for us to revisit the way we’ve chosen to live our lives, and make room for more being and less doing.

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